When this pandemic began, I was a cashier and customer service associate in a grocery store. As panic started to build and my job became busier and more stressful than ever before, I began to notice a shift in the attitude of the customers. Yes, some of theme were still horrible to us, but many of them were appreciative of our role in ensuring public safety in a pandemic. For the first time in my two years as a cashier, I began to feel like someone truly saw the value in what I did.
Early on in the pandemic I transitioned into a vastly different job position, but I will never forget how strange it felt to see people publicly thanking cashiers and calling them heroes all over social media. In the early spring, as everyone was working and attending classes from home, many people still got up and went to work everyday to ensure that society would continue to function- even during a shutdown.
Although society has generally agreed that these people are heroes, many of them still do not make what would be considered a livable wage. How can a person that is considered essential during a major health crisis not be considered worthy of enough money to live off of? Where is the hazard pay for these minimum wage restaurant workers? Where are bonuses for the retail employees who lived through the great toilet paper shortage of 2020? Why are there still some job positions in hospitals that earn less money than those who were able to stay at home?
I'm very glad that society is beginning to see the value of the work that these individuals do. These types of workers are finally being treated as equal, competent, productive members of society, but it shouldn't stop there. No one that had to work during a major public health crisis should be forced to live off government assistance.
Next time that you are about to berate an essential employee, or treat them like you are better than them, remember that you're not. Stop and consider the implications of your actions. These people are making a ridiculously low amount of money in order to put themselves at risk while serving you.
It's time to stop thanking these people on your social media, show some respect, and actually start fighting for their livelihoods.